Welcome To The Machine

A few days ago I had a very strange experience, maybe not an overly unexpected one, but it was very strange just the same.

I had gone to the local shopping mall with my girlfriend to look for a new backpack and get something to eat. After a short while I found one particular bag which looked well built, and seemed to suit my needs . The bag was boasting quite an incredible guarantee, that they would fix the bag, forever, no matter what. Which I thought was fantastic because I had just worn through my second bag in the last couple of years, and having one I could really depend on, or get fixed for free would be a load off my mind.

I looked around for the sales rep and eventually found her, sitting behind the counter’s cash register, mostly out of sight, pressing virtual buttons on some sort of large tablet phone. Although this girl who was quite obviously hiding, and didn’t look like the world’s greatest employee, I thought she might have the answers I needed.

“Um, Excuse me” I said to her. “Could I ask you a few questions about this bag?”

She acknowledged me by raising her all powerful tablet tapping finger to let me know she would just be a minute, and then went back to tapping, what I assume was a message to her friend how I was rudely demanding some sort of service from her.

Tablets Everywhere

I looked to my girlfriend to give her my “WTF look” but she was also busy on her tablet phone a few steps away from me, and seemed to have no comprehension of what was going on here in the store.

The sales rep came over to me, and I walked her over to the bag I was interested in, then asked her if they would really replace the bag and repair for free. She said “Yes”, then went immediately back to the discussion on her tablet, slowly walking away from me. I wanted to ask her if I would bring it there for the repair, if it covered abuse, and whether or not I would need my receipt for the repair, with the knowledge that the thermal receipts in this store would be unreadable in a year, but she was already on her way back to sitting out of sight behind the cash register.

I decided to look around for someone else to help me, and I found much of the same nearby around the bag area, employees sitting down, hiding behind shelves, and various other things, all typing away on their tablets. Weird I thought, looking around from where I was standing I could see about twenty people or so, mostly clerks hiding, what seemed to be a manager, but also five or six other customers, and every single one of them, all of them including a couple of people walking, and my girlfriend, were pressing on the screen of their tablets. It was weird, like I was some sort of ghost or something, like we all were ghosts to one another, there was no vocal talking, eye contact or traditional socializing going on between anyone at all. Some people even had headphones on, satisfying not just their sight, and touch, but hearing as well.

I called to my girlfriend “Babe… Babe…” but she kept tapping away “Honey!” she looked up a second. “Put your phone away a minute, please.”

“Sec” she said and typed a bit more before lowering the phone a few inches. “What” she said

“Look around” I instructed her

She looked around a bit and said “What?”

“Look at everyone, every single person here is tapping away on their phone.”

She acknowledged it, then started to go back to her phone. I started to feel a bit worried about this, like it was a serious addiction for most people, including my girlfriend, I was worried about her, and humanity, and also feeling a bit alone.

I demanded she put the phone away or I would not buy her dinner, she did so, and I again pointed out the one hundred percent smart phone users around us.

We began to walk out of the store, which though filled with people, was completely silent except for the sound of our feet as they hit the ground, and the store music.

We left the store and proceeded to make our way to the restaurant for dinner, both of us were busy looking around to see if there was anyone NOT on their smartphones. There were some, but it was a small minority. Most people were sitting around pressing on their phones on the benches in the mall, but there were also many people walking down the halls, at a slow uneven pace, pressing on the phone as they went, blocking the progress of the two of us, who lacking a phone in our faces, were fully aware of our surroundings and traveling faster than the tablet users around us.

“Look at those two” I said, pointing out a couple, “walking all over the place slowly, and halve mindedly as they press on the phones, they have no more brainpower being used on their surroundings, or any more coordination than zombies.”

Mall Zombies

“Zombies” my girlfriend giggled.

There were many tablet zombie near collisions in the halls of the mall as we walked, and we even saw one couple of zombies collide head on, though at zombie speed I don’t think anyone can really get hurt.

“It’s scary” I said. “It’s a zombie apocalypse.”

As we went to the restaurant the people working at the restaurant were not on their smartphones, as well as most of the people eating, I felt like I was in a sort of reality bubble, but outside the windows more than sixty percent of all the people we saw were zombies. Scary stuff.

Have you looked up from your smartphone in public recently to see how many zombies are around you?

Although this song is not quite about becoming a smart phone zombie, it is the song I was thinking of while I looked at the zombie apocalypse around me.

Crank it up and enjoy.

Pink Floyd “Welcome To The Machine”(1975)

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

Where have you been? It’s alright we know where you’ve been.

You’ve been in the pipeline, filling in time,

provided with toys and Scouting for Boys.

You bought a guitar to punish your ma,

And you didn’t like school, and you know you’re nobody’s fool,

So welcome to the machine.

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

What did you dream? It’s alright we told you what to dream.

You dreamed of a big star, he played a mean guitar,

He always ate in the Steak Bar. He loved to drive in his Jaguar.

So welcome to the machine.

Smartphone Zombie Apocalypse

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  1. Helena Fortissima
    May 20th, 2014 at 08:30
    Reply | Quote | #1

    It really is crazy, isn’t it? This whole techo-obsession we’ve got going on. I have to admit, I’m guilty at times of snapping pics and posting them right then and there, but in general, I try to refrain from using my phone as anything other than a camera when I’m out in public. That Pink Floyd song was prophetic is so many ways!

    • PBScott
      May 20th, 2014 at 09:35
      Reply | Quote | #2

      The song really was prophetic for sure. I was joking with my friend that they must have found the perfect amount of self medication that day, and looked through a portal to the future.

  2. nothingprofound
    May 20th, 2014 at 11:12
    Reply | Quote | #3

    It is strange for someone of my generation to see people in the street constantly engaged with some technological device. Then again, I feel the same way every time I see a car drive by. I don’t really care what other people do-it just all seems so bizarre to me.

    • PBScott
      May 21st, 2014 at 11:38
      Reply | Quote | #4

      I’m quite confident humans are the most bizarre creatures on earth, and possibly even beyond.

  3. Janene
    May 30th, 2014 at 20:38
    Reply | Quote | #5

    You’re right. The apocalypse is nigh! It’s so sad to see so many people’s eyes glued to their phones and not seeing what’s right in front of them.

    • PBScott
      Jun 6th, 2014 at 11:40
      Reply | Quote | #6

      Maybe they are trying not to look at what is in front of them…. which of course is the Apocalypse!

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